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How to care for a cat?

© Helen Krasner Long-haired cats need lots of care
© Helen Krasner
Before getting your new cat.
You need to decide what type of cat you want. Will it be a moggy or non-pedigree, perhaps a rescue cat which needs a home? Should you get a pedigree cat? Do you want a kitten or an older cat? Pedigree cats can be gorgeous, but they are expensive. Most areas have cat rescue centres, and these often have a variety of cats available for adoption.

Assemble everything you will need before you bring your new cat home. This will include food and water dishes, a litter tray and litter, and somewhere for the cat to sleep. Cat toys are essential for young cats, and some older ones love to play.
Bringing your cat home and the first steps.
It is a good idea to confine the cat to one room at first. Show it the food, water, litter tray, and bed. However, it may well decide to lie or sleep elsewhere. Remember, you are unlikely to be able to train your cat in the same way as a dog; it will probably go where it likes. Pet your cat, but if it seems nervous, don’t overdo it. If you have children, teach them that a cat is not a toy and should be handled carefully.
Looking after a cat in the longer term
You will need to register the cat with a vet, and get it neutered or spayed if this has not already been done. It will need regular vaccinations, worming treatments, and flea protection. You need to budget for all this, and either insure your cat, or budget for unexpected illnesses or accidents.

If you want to let your cat out, you should not do this for at least three weeks, so that it knows where it lives. If you live in a flat, or close to a main road, it may be kinder and safer to keep your cat indoors all the time, or to enclose your garden with cat-proof fencing.
Final thoughts on caring for cats
Bear in mind that cats can live for 15 to 20 years. It has been estimated that a cat can cost £10,000 over its entire lifetime. There is a possibility that your furniture will get damaged by the cat‘s claws, and you will no longer be able to go on holiday without arranging for someone to care for the cat. So think long and hard before you decide that you want to care for a cat.

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